Duval County school administrators and law enforcement will meet with the Terry Parker High School community to talk about proactive safety measures Thursday after recent gun-related incidents.
Students are feeling unsafe after two teenagers were arrested last week for a shooting near a school-bus stop.
This month, students at Jacksonville’s Terry Parker and Ed White High schools were arrested for bringing guns to school. Most recently, a bus transporting students to Terry Parker was the target of gunfire.
“It really caught all of us by surprise cause we know a couple people that rode that bus, and we’re just grateful and thankful that no one got hurt,” says Terry Parker freshman La’Vontae Cooper. The 14-year-old says something has to change.
“I think it’s kind of getting out of control,” he says. “School is supposed to be a safe place where you can learn and get your education to better yourself.”
He also says school officials have promised more frequent searches, but he hasn’t seen that happening. They also are not enforcing a ban on book bags. At this point, he isn’t opposed to metal detectors.
But Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he doesn’t believe that’s the answer.
“I don’t necessarily think it's the best use of resources, and I think it can create a prison mentality in schools, and that’s the last thing that we should be trying to do in the school environment,” Vitti says.
Vitti also says parents and guardians should take a more active role. The district has asked them to monitor students’ friends and activities and search their book bags. The ideal is for students to feel comfortable enough to report suspicious behavior to staff or parents before things escalate, Vitti says.
District officials and law enforcement officers will present new safety measures at Terry Parker High School at 6 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited to attend.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated the Duval County School Board would be presenting proactive safety measures. The Board will not be present.